The working papers for an audit of the Public Utilities Commission is raising eyebrows and could stir a political storm two months before municipal elections.
The Audit is for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017, and, in his august Management Letter, accountant Cedric Flowers points to a few worrying details in his letter to the board of the PUC.
He notes that there were over $50,000 dollars in donations for which he found no evidence of approval by the Commission.
As regards the Raspberry PI Program where the PUC purchased a large number of computers for youth training, Flowers notes, quote, "substantial modification of previously approved expenditures, payment of unbudgeted expenses, lack of proper support for expenditures, and financing of its operations without an approved budget."
And what caught our attention was the over $70,000 in credit card purchases where, according to the auditor, quote, "several of the expenditures were of a nature which did not appear to have any direct relationship to the activities of the PUC." And what were those credit card funds spent on? Well, it looks like a PUC Jolly!
The details are in another series of notes in a tranche of documents leaked to the media. It seems to have been compiled for the Prime Minister, presumably, by a disgruntled former employee. It says, quote, "some of these expenses referred to non-PUC business. Eg: Riverside Tavern, Barcelo Tours, Macy's, Kahana Boutique, Royal Caribbean Cruise, Perry Ellis etc..." This former employee concludes, quote, "$272,000 paid out since 2008 in credit card expenses."
That's a quarter million dollars in credit card bills, but it pales in comparison to the cost of a property for a new PUC Headquarters. The 13.5 acres of land - which is near the Bel China bridge cost 950,000 dollars with three hundred thousand dollars paid so far for filling it.
And then there's the issue of the architect which the auditor suggests is a related parties transaction between the firm and a PUC Commissioner. That's another quarter million dollars.
Speaking to us today, the Chairman of the PUC John Avery stressed, quote, "there is no completed audit report from our auditor for the period ending March 31, 2017." As for the letter sent by accountant Cedric Flowers, Avery says they cannot comment on an ongoing audit process.
He adds, quote, "we have had a cursory view of some of the documents and they are unsubstantiated." He stressed that there are no final documents from the PUC so the whole story is unsubstantiated and the PUC won't waste time answering questions about that.